This is the season of lists - best ofs, worst ofs, and all that hoo-ha. At the request of some regular readers, I'll be posting selections from what I read this year. I like mysteries and adore mystery series, so it doesn't take a sleuth to realize my personal list is heavily weighted this year in that direction. I also like heart-felt imaginative tales and they make up the rest of the list.
They're not all newly publishly, but that just makes them easier to find at the library and less expensive from booksellers, if you're considering giving books as gifts.
You'll notice titles in my top fiction choices that some would like to relegate to young adult lists. I believe well-told stories appeal across the ages. I'll post my favorite picture books tomorrow, text heavy tales for older readers today.
Wherever possible, I've linked not to a bookseller, but to the author's website. I figure you can decide on your favorite bookseller.
Patrick Ness. (2011) A Monster Calls. A story of legacy from Siobhan Dowd, Ness draws the reader into a tale of terror and loss that is also a story of healing and great love. Keep the hankies close as a monster invades a young boy’s dreams and demands the truth.
Erin Morgenstern. (2011) The Night Circus. A duel by proxy grows into a wonderful world of imagination and love. How will redemption be wrested from what is set up to be a game of destruction? Read on and dance with this wondering.
Jasper Fforde (2009) Shades of Grey: the Road to High Saffron. I read this book in the first weeks of January and it is still with me – a tale with very, very long legs indeed. Fforde is a compelling writing, although there is a phenomenal amount of technical detail. Just keep on your wonderment spectacles and forge ahead, and before long you’ll be wrapped in the mystery and adventure.
Anthony Horowitz. (2011) House of Silk. Approved by the Conan Doyle Estate, Horowitz’s new Sherlock Holmes is full of Conan Doyle’s style. Yet Horowitz makes the characters and the story his own in wonderful ways, familiar to those of us who already love Horowitz’s Alex Ryder or Power of Five series or know his work from Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War. Delicious for the Holmes and Watson enthusiast, a fine read even if you don’t know that literary duo.
Tom Franklin (2010) Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Franklin delivers a difficult novel, as any realistic novel involving racial issues, suspicion, and responsibility will be. Crooked Letter is a driving story of intrigue, investigation, and small-town life, a continuous page turner demanding attention in every detail and moment.
Jessica Day George (2009) Princess of the Midnight Ball. George retells Grimm’s tale of twelve dancing princesses, this time with a knitting hero to help wrest freedom from captivity to despair.
Henning Mankell. Kurt Wallander Series. I happen to adore mysteries, particularly serial mysteries. Wallander enjoys a tremendous following and has even leapt to television screens in two different translations.
Arne Dahl. (2009) Misterioso. Another wonderfully told suspense-filled mystery, this one woven with jazz and an assemblage of police officers learning how to be a team in the new Sweden.
Louise Penny. Inspector Gamache series. I mentioned how much I enjoy mystery series and here’s another one, revolving around a picture book village and long-held resentments that need the work of a team of caring investigators to bring justice.
Steve Hockensmith. (2007) Holmes on the Range. Fun, frothy deducifying for lovers of both westerns and mysteries, a quick romp filled with colorful language as two brothers find themselves on the trail of some killers. Set in the time to be contemporary with Holmes, racial language is painfully and truthfully present. Those who use it, though, will be proved scoundrels and scalliwags. Just be forewarned.
Graham Moore (2010) The Sherlockian. Once along in this lovingly crafted historical novel playing around with the creator of one of the most beloved of literary figures, I didn't want to stop reading. Creating friendships and intrigues, Moore traverses back and forth between what is romantic and what is not (can the day of reason be romantic? can the age of the electric light? what of the era of electronic ether?), imagining mysteries intertwined with mysteries.